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The Gentleman’s Guide to Alcohol for Every Summer Occasion

It’s good form to bring an occasion-appropriate bottle of wine or a sophisticated six-pack along with you to a party—it shows you’ve matured and you gave up the Jägermeister and Natty Light when you left the frat house. Now you’re all grown up and with the warm winds blowin’ and your calendar filled with summertime party invites, it’s time to consider what drink to bring. There are thousands of varieties of drink to choose from (all with specific flavors, aromas, and pairings), but don’t worry; I got your back with perennial choices that’ll work with any summer scenario…

Occasion: Casual Backyard Barbecue
Beer: Allagash White
Type: Belgian style wheat
ABV: 5%
Profile: Light, fruity, spicy aftertaste
Ideal Pairings: Grilled fish dishes, barbecue herb chicken, mild cheeses
Beer and BBQ, nothing is more American that. In this case, go with the crispness of Allagash White: this Belgium-styled ale is cloudy in appearance, but its tastes are clean and fruity with a slight orange-peel aftertaste. With 5 percent alcohol, Allagash also packs a nice punch.

Occasion: Fancy Garden Party
Wine: Patrick Bottex “La Cueille” Bugey Cerdon Rosé
ABV: 8%
Profile: Slightly sweet, strawberries, rose colored
Ideal Pairings: Strawberry shortcake, cookies, soft cheeses
If the occasion is fancy, you’ll be like a regular Jay Gatsby with a bottle of Patrick Bottex “La Cueille.” Berry flavored, bubbly, sweet but not too overpowering, this wine is also pretty versatile around a party; you can drink this as an aperitif, or as a dessert wine. The sharpness pairs well with creamy Italian cheeses, like a Quadrello Di Bufala, seersucker suits, and flapper girls named “Daisy.”

Occasion: Informal Dinner Party
Wine: 2011 Cantena Malbec
ABV: 13.5%
Profile: Intense aroma, wild berry flavors with a touch of cinnamon, ruby red coloring
Ideal Pairings:
Grilled steak, salmon, pasta with red sauce
Wine can be a delicious way to burn through cash, but you need to remember that the average wine drinker can’t distinguish a $20 bottle from a $100 bottle. That said, $16 will get you a 2011 Cantena Malbec—it’s a versatile selection that the wine novice will love and the experienced wine connoisseur can still respect.

Occasion: Friendly Picnic
Cocktail: The Icepick
ABV: 40% (Pace yourself, mister.)
Profile: Crisp, citrus, tea leaves
Ideal Pairings:
Everything goes with vodka.
If you know you’re going to be outside and are going toe-to-toe with the sun, you want to stay hydrated and not get bogged down with something dry or too sugary. Make yourself an Icepick, which is just Kettle One Vodka and iced tea. The flavor of the tea never allows the vodka to be the star and if like your tea sweetened, the sugar will mask the vodka taste even more. Refreshing and easy, this should be the official beverage for any corn hole, horseshoe, or adult whiffle ball game you play.

Occasion: Sitting Around the Fire Pit
Whiskey: Glenmorangie
ABV: 40%
Profile: Notes of lemon and spices, slight vanilla and toffee flavor 
Ideal Pairings:
Rich, creamy soups–especially lobster bisque.
Whether you’re out camping under Half Dome or huddled around the backyard fire pit, do it with a “Glen.” We all know Glenlivet and Glenfiddich, but go with the often-overlooked Glenmorangie. A 10-year-old bottle of this is the best-priced, best tasting Scotch out there. For $45 a bottle, you’ll get a smooth, vanilla-flavored whiskey with a really even finish. Drink this Don Draper-style; neat, but unlike our favorite Mad Man, add soda water on the side. Sip on this, by itself after dinner or you can, try it with a cigar.

Photo credit: Getty Images

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